How did Ivanhoe become a wildly popular school text? And what happened to the interpretation of the text when it did? Across the Anglophone world, Scott’s medieval England became reified as a time and place of chivalric adventure, despite the novel’s often ironic tone and often pointed social criticisms. This episode examines how Sir Walter Scott’s imagined past became something very different as it was reinterpreted in popular culture, in sometimes sinister ways.
There are some things that almost any Hollywood film set in the Middle Ages can count on. It will be set in England. There will be a lot of forests. The Norman nobility will oppress the Saxon peasantry. Other things are optional but frequent. There may be a tournament or a siege. There may be a reference to the Crusades. Robin Hood may turn up. There may be a trial for witchcraft. Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe contains all of these things, and since its publication in 1819, this runaway bestseller has helped to shape Anglophone ideas of the Middle Ages.
Manfred of House Hohenstaufen is dead; Charles of Anjou, in the name of the papacy, has claimed Sicily and awaits coronation. Across the Ionian and Aegean Seas, Michael Palaeologus looks to the Latin West and waits. In Germany, Conradin, son of the last "rightful" king of Sicily, desires to seize his own claim to the throne. And the House of Aragon begins to stir and look towards Sicily with its own ambitions. This week on Footnoting History, the thrilling conclusion to our saga of the Sicilian Vespers which sees 4000 Frenchmen dead.
In the middle of the 13th Century, a violent uprising began on the island of Sicily in an attempt to oust the French King, Charles I of Anjou, that left approximately 13,000 people dead over the course of six weeks. This violent uprising also sparked a wider pan-Mediterranean war between the Spanish crown of Aragon, the Angevin Kingdom of Naples, the Byzantine Empire, and the Kingdom of France. In part one of this two-part series, Josh explores the causes of the uprising and the immediate aftermath.
Starting in the early 1600s, the Ottoman sultans switched from practicing fratricide to confinement as a means to preserve their rule from their grasping brothers. In this episode, Elizabeth examines how this treatment led a number of eventual sultans to have less than stellar qualifications and less than stellar legacies.
Mohenjo Daro was a vast metropolis, with elaborate urban infrastructure… and largely mysterious urban organization. It was a center of the Indus Valley civilization. Located in what is now Pakistan and northwestern India, the cities of this civilization covered territory roughly the size of western Europe. Because its language still hasn’t been deciphered by modern scholars, there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. But this hasn’t stopped modern scholars, writers, politicians, and artists from engaging with and fantasizing about it. This episode looks at what history can tell us about the art and culture — and water management — of this ancient civilization.
One of the most iconic Indian curries has its origins in British colonial India. But was this dish created by South Asian cooks, working in Britain, or was it created in India and then eagerly adopted by the West? Explore the history of this delicious dish with Kristin this week on Footnoting History!
Morris "Moe" Berg played for multiple Major League Baseball teams in the late 1920s and 1930s. Then, during World War II, he worked as a spy. In this episode, Christine discusses Berg's unusual life and career trajectory.
Christopher Columbus inaugurated unprecedented global changed when he sailed from Europe to the Caribbean in 1492. But he brought with him expectations that his “discovery” of this new found route to “India” would see the beginning of the end of the world. He wrote about these expectations in his Book of Prophecies. Come behold the apocalypse on today’s Footnoting History.
Print Engraving from Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates c. 1725.
What do you do when you’re bored with the genteel life of a plantation owner? You take to the seas and become friends with Blackbeard, of course. Follow the fascinating life – and peculiar choices – of Stede Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate, this week on Footnoting History.
Plucked from obscurity to become the wife of an emperor, Irene of Athens went on to become regent and empress in her own right. A ruthless strategist, an international diplomat, and an intelligent politician, she was also an influential participant in Byzantium’s early medieval controversy over icons, which some saw as threatening imperial power. This episode explores her life, reign, and historical reputation.
In the 15th century, Anne Neville married twice, once to each side fighting in the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband was the Lancastrian heir and her second became a Yorkist king. In this episode, join Christine for a look at Anne’s life and the people in it, including her two husbands, and her sister Isabel.
Liberté de mariage (Divorce), 1793-1794, via Bibliothèque nationale de France.
During France's long revolutionary period, a lot of things changed, including how you could end your marriage. In this episode, Christine takes a look at the introduction of divorce in France, including some of the ways you could (and couldn't) legally split from your spouse from the dawn of the French Revolution through the Napoleonic years and beyond.
Martyrdom of the Franciscans (Ambrogio Lorenzetti)
In the early fourteenth century, four Franciscan friars set out for East Asia to preach the Gospel among the Mongols. In the city of Thana (modern Mumbai), however, they met their end after running afoul of the local administrators. We explore their story, a Latin Christian understanding of Asia, and more in this episode of Footnoting History.
Ever wondered what would be on the menu in medieval England? Take a look with Kristin at one of the oldest English cookbooks, TheForme of Cury, and see what Richard II was having for dinner in this week’s episode of Footnoting History!
What does Beowulf have to do with the linguistics of African-American history? The same man studied them both… and his scholarship on medieval literature helped frame his search for linguistic communities. This podcast examines the career of Lorenzo Dow Turner, celebrated linguist known as the Father of Gullah Studies. Turner studied the language, ideas, and culture of Black island communities in the southeastern United States, and created recognition for that culture in so doing.
Starting in the late 1800s, forward thinking progressives embraced the idea that human evolution needed a little help in order to make sure that only the best (in their view) produced. Eventually, this idea became codified in legislation and even the Supreme Court of the United States supported it. Join Elizabeth as she examines the formulation of this idea and its impact.
In the Ottoman Empire, royal women were to be neither seen nor heard - after giving birth to the Sultan's child, they were supposed to recede into the background, focused on raising that potential heir. And, yet, in the 1500s, a young concubine captured the heart of one of the greatest leaders of all history. By doing so, she ushered in a period known as the Sultanate of Women. And we don't even know her real name. In this episode, join Elizabeth as she examines the history of the "Joyful One."
Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria became Emperor Napoleon I of France's second wife in 1810, only a few years before he was overthrown. This episode covers the ups and downs of Marie Louise's life before, during, and after her time with Napoleon. Podcaster: Christine